Mary O’Callaghan‘s sentencing comes amid intense scrutiny and criticism nationwide of police use of force. The last 20 months of her sentence were suspended, meaning she’ll likely spend a little more than a year in county jail.
In the video, which can be seen by clicking here, O’Callaghan jabbed at Thomas’ throat with an open hand and threatened to kick her in the crotch. O’Callaghan then raised her boot and struck Thomas, whose body shook in response.
The recording captured Thomas — who asked officers for an ambulance more than 30 minutes before one was called — breathing heavily and repeatedly saying, “I can’t.”
A few minutes later, Thomas, a 35-year-old mother, lost consciousness. She later died.
A video from a dashboard camera in a different patrol car — also played during the trial — showed O’Callaghan smoking a cigarette as she peeked inside the car at Thomas, whose legs were tied with a nylon hobble restraint.
“That ain’t a good sign,” O’Callaghan said out loud in the video.
Rico told jurors that although the footage shows an “ugly” scene, his client’s use of force was “reasonable, justified and necessary.” Thomas wasn’t complying with the officers’ orders, he said.
Immediately after the verdict, Rico told reporters that he planned to file a motion for a new trial, saying he believed jurors had based their decision on emotions — and his client’s profanity captured on camera — not on evidence. At the time, Rico described O’Callaghan as far from callous, saying she often bought Halloween costumes and Christmas presents for children in local housing projects.
“Mary O’Callaghan is today — and was — the type of officer that goes above and beyond, not only for her fellow officers but also for the community,” Rico told reporters last month.
Thomas was pronounced dead at a hospital after her July 22, 2012, arrest, which came after officers arrived at her home to investigate claims that she had abandoned her two children by dropping them off at a police station.
O’Callaghan, who did not testify in the trial, was not charged in connection with Thomas’ death.
An autopsy by the Los Angeles County coroner determined that cocaine intoxication was likely “a major factor” in Thomas’ death. It wasn’t possible to determine what role, if any, the struggle with the officers played in her death. The official cause of death was listed as “undetermined.”